Looking to be much more than a coach

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Ronald Lane, a Selma-native and proud graduate of Wallace Community College was recently named its men’s basketball coach. What follows is a brief question-and-answer session Times-Journal sports editor Barrett Welch conducted with him:

Q: Where were you before Selma, and what brought you back?

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A: I’ve been in Selma most of my life, but I was working as a fifth-grade teacher at Clark Elementary School, and I was an assistant football coach at Selma High School. I’ll still be teaching at Clark School. Teaching is full-time, and basketball coaching is part-time. I always wanted to come home and just reach back and help kids in this neighborhood and community from a mentoring standpoint. I think our youth basketball has the mechanism to do that. Kids tend to gravitate to sports. You can get them and teach them some life lessons through sports. That’s one way you can mentor and teach.

Q: Last year, you were an assistant football coach at Selma High School. How did you become head basketball coach at Wallace Community College?

A: It’s kind of uncanny. I was aware that the job was open, but I wasn’t looking to apply for it. I always dreamed about coming back and coaching in the local community on the high school level, not at that level – not so soon anyway. A couple days later, someone came from the school and asked me if I would be interested in it, and I was shocked. I sat down with him and talked about it and he told me about the positives and negatives, the challenges, and so forth, and I accepted the challenge. I think what I’ve been through – my coaching experience and dealing with young people – prepared me for that. And the fact that they came to me and asked me to take the job made me feel like there was a spiritual connection with that. They pretty much told me the same things I feel about myself. I have a knack for working with young people, and the young people need somebody who can relate to them. Young people are not the same as they were 15 or 20 years ago. They thought that I could relate to young males. They thought that I had the charisma and had demonstrated my work in the community as far as working in basketball and working in that realm. I think that’s why they came to me.

Q: Prior to your time as an assistant football coach, and now as Wallace Community College’s head coach, what basketball coaching experience did you have?

A: I was a volunteer assistant coach for Selma High School’s 1994 state championship basketball team. After that, I started my own Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team with Tim Drane and the late Kenneth Burden. We pretty much founded it from scratch, built it up, took some local kids from different high schools in the area and started a traveling with them. We thought that it was good to take those kids to some metropolitan areas, get them a lot of playing experience, and get them some exposure in front of college recruiters. My desire to coach and teach started in the AAU program. After that, I took a head-coaching job at Central Christian Academy, and once I did that, I decided to go back to school and get my education. I wanted to go ahead and be a teacher and coach within the public sector, and that’s what led me into this.

Q: What changes are you planning on making to the team from last year?

A: The name of the school is Wallace Community College, but I think the community aspect of the basketball program itself has not been in the program. What I plan on doing is infusing community into the program. I want to promote the program so the community can come out and be a part of Wallace Community College and witness these young athletes matriculate through college and mature. But also, from the aspect of community, I think it’s paramount that I get the young men involved into the community by doing community service projects and visiting with some of the local charitable organizations. I think that will show them that, while they’ve given a whole lot, somebody’s given them a scholarship for a free education. Of course, it has to be earned in the classroom and on the basketball court, but also it has to be earned by going out and doing some community relations and service. I think that will help them become mature, responsible adults. I want to make sure that the community aspect of Wallace Community College is brought into the program.

Community comes first. We all have to live together, and that makes a community.

Q: What differences will be seen in on-court strategy?

A: We want to be up-tempo and exciting, but there’s going to be structure within that. We want to bring an exciting brand of basketball to the community that fans will want to come out and see and be entertained by. You can entertain and learn all at the same time. I want to take the kids and put them into an environment I know they want to be in. Most kids want to be in an up-tempo program. They want to run, they want to press and have an up-and-down game, and that’s what I want to bring to the community. My philosophy is this: There’s three digits on the scoreboard. Why not try to go and get them? We want to dictate that from a defensive standpoint – put a lot of pressure on the ball, create a lot of turnovers, get the ball up and down the floor and give adequate playing time to everybody so the kids can grow from that.